Excerpt from City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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City of Girls

A Novel

by Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert X
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2019, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2020, 496 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Adrienne Pisch
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About this Book

Print Excerpt


Stern as she could be at the sewing machine, I did not chafe under her rule. Her criticisms stung but did not ache. I was fascinated enough by clothing to want to learn, and I knew that she only wished to foster my aptitude.

Her praise was rare, but it fed my fingers. I grew deft.

When I was thirteen, Grandmother Morris bought me the sewing machine that would someday accompany me to New York City by train. It was a sleek, black Singer 201 and it was murderously powerful (you could sew leather with it; I could have upholstered a Bugatti with that thing!). To this day, I've never been given a better gift. I took the Singer with me to boarding school, where it gave me enormous power within that community of privileged girls who all wanted to dress well, but who did not necessarily have the skills to do so. Once word got out around school that I could sew anything-and truly, I could-the other girls at Emma Willard were always knocking at my door, begging me to let out their waists for them, or to fix a seam, or to take their older sister's formal dress from last season and make it fit them right now. I spent those years bent over that Singer like a machine gunner, and it was worth it. I became popular-which is the only thing that matters, really, at boarding school. Or anywhere.

Excerpted from City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Gilbert. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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